Foot and Mouth (Rural Economy)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 20th March 2001.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls Conservative, Teignbridge 3:30 pm, 20th March 2001

Everyone who has known the Minister over the years will know that he made his statement today with complete sincerity. However, at lunchtime we heard the Leader of the House saying that it is not people who are in quarantine, but only animals. Does that not give rise to the suspicion that the Government do not yet appreciate that they have a national crisis on their hands?

I assume that the right hon. Gentleman will have made an assessment of the consequences for a tourism industry that may well find that in certain parts of the country the summer season is already lost. I assume also that he will have made some assessment of the effect that that will have on farmers who may not be able to start up their proceedings again for six or nine months. Given that we have a national crisis on such a scale, what measures is the right hon. Gentleman thinking of introducing, other than those announced today which are very small and specific? Where in his thinking is the sense that we are dealing with a national crisis that needs a national response?